• Thu. Jun 30th, 2022

Why Iron Man’s Most Controversial Story Was Too Dark For The MCU

ByRandall B. Phelps

Jan 24, 2022

Marvel’s Armored Avenger Iron Man had a classic backstory that defined him for years in the comics, but was considered too dark for the MCU.

Robert Downey Jr.’s performance as Iron Man early in the Marvel Cinematic Universe helped establish the actor as the face of the franchise. The critical and financial success of the first Iron Man films, as well as the later films that led to avengers, helped adapt several other Marvel characters and laid the foundation for what would become the golden age of superhero movies.

To do this, the MCU stuck to a proven formula of dominating the block office for over a decade, never straying too far from what had worked in the past. While this worked for many characters, including Iron Man, it led to the exclusion of one of the character’s defining storylines: “Demon in a Bottle” (by David Michelinie and Bob Layton and illustrated by John Romita , Jr., Bob Layton, and Carmine Infantino). The story centered on Tony Stark’s struggle with alcoholism, a serious topic that wouldn’t have matched the family appeal the MCU was looking for.


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“Demon in a Bottle” revolves around Tony Stark’s battle with alcoholism. The story spanned nine issues and saw Stark hit rock bottom after a series of Iron Man armor malfunctions caused several tragedies, including the death of an ambassador and Tony being forced to resign in as the leader of the Avengers. The stress led Stark to binge on his problems, even after the story’s main villain, Justin Hammer, was defeated. When his loyal butler Jarvis confronted him with his troubles, Stark went on a rampage, leading the butler to quit and sell his shares of Stark International to S.H.I.E.L.D. Tony eventually got help from his girlfriend Bethany Cable, who helped him overcome his addiction and reconcile with Jarvis. becoming both a better man and a stronger hero in the process.


“Demon in a Bottle” was a landmark arc for Tony Stark as a character and a significant development in the superhero genre as it tackled a very controversial and mature topic: addiction. Many major Iron Man storylines would later reference the classic tale, as it would add dimension to Tony’s character and the threat of another relapse would be a more dangerous threat to him than any villain. The significance of the arc and how it defined Iron Man for years to come makes it all the more surprising that the arc wasn’t adapted for the MCU. Speculation about the story finally being made for the big screen was ripe before the first Iron Man the film was released, particularly when Robert Downey Jr. was cast in the lead role in 2008. Iron Man, Downey had a very public battle with drug addiction that plagued his career before the MCU catapulted him back into the Hollywood spotlight. News of his casting over a decade ago suggested the actor had retired the kinship role for Tony Stark’s own battle with addiction, but that aspect of the character was only hinted at on the big screen. .


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Downey’s Stark is seen drinking throughout the first two Iron Man movies, and when we first see the character, he nonchalantly savors several shots of scotch. In iron man 2 (which features Justin Hammer as the villain), there’s a scene where Stark throws a house party with several drunk guests wearing Iron Man armor before being confronted by James Rhodes, who takes the costume off. However, despite a scene of Stark enjoying a glass of scotch while confronting Loki in 2012 The Avengers, Disney’s acquisition of Marvel seemed to return to the fact that Stark was a heavy drinker. In an interview, Shane Black hinted that he had considered exploring Tony’s descent into alcoholism in the third film, but was persuaded by Disney to steer away from that direction and do so. so that Tony is an eccentric genius suffering from PTSD.


“Demon in a Bottle” is a classic Marvel story and has defined the character of Iron Man in comic books for decades. However, the story’s mature themes would conflict with the family nature of the mainstream MCU and could easily have been mishandled at the start of the cinematic universe. Still, adapting the script could have been a bold attempt to offer audiences something different from the usual big-screen superhero fare. Considering the MCU has been criticized by some for being too “formular,” seeing it experiment and take risks with a story revolving around a true addiction that millions of people around the world endure would likely have pushed the boundaries of what it was. what the MCU can say.


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